Ahmed Jarba attempts to persuade the White House
Ahmed Jarba, public opponent of Syrian president to Bashar Al-Assad, is visiting Washington in a new attempt to acquire anti-aircraft missiles
Ahmed Jarba, public opponent of Syrian president to Bashar Al-Assad, is visiting Washington in a new attempt to acquire anti-aircraft missiles, the weapons which expelled the Soviets from Afghanistan and whose absence from the Syrian revolutionary–rebel arsenal has prolonged Assad’s survival in Damascus.
I do not know how Jarba will manage to persuade the stubborn officials in the White House to allow him to have these missiles.
Jarba is not asking for them free of charge nor is he asking the Americans to directly sell them to him. He wants the U.S. to allow those who already have them to sell or give them to the Free Syrian Army.
Despite the magnitude of the tragedy and the ongoing use of aircrafts and barrel bombs by Assad’s regime to indiscriminately bombard cities and towns on a daily basis despite the U.N. Security Council’s continuous warnings not to do so, there is no evidence the White House is prepared to change its mind in arming the opposition.
Syrian opposition seeks a fighting chance
Due to the lack of anti-aircraft weapons, Syrian airspace remains open to Assad’s forces. Planes carry out raids every day unhindered. The air force is the main reason the regime has survived this long and now that its ground forces have been decimated, Assad is also relying heavily on Iraqi militias and Lebanese Hezbollah to fight for him.
The U.S. ban on the opposition’s owning anti-aircraft weapons has practically enabled the Assad regime and its allies—Lebanese and Iranian alike—to make headway in the conflict.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Because of the Assad regime’s air superiority and constant bombardment, most Syrian cities and villages have been destroyed and nine million people have been displaced, half of which have fled the country.
The U.S. ban on the opposition’s owning anti-aircraft weapons has practically enabled the Assad regime and its allies—Lebanese and Iranian alike—to make headway in the conflict.
This is the main reason for the tragic refugee situation which has now begun to threaten the stability of neighboring states, especially Jordan and Lebanon.
In order for the opposition to stop the defeat and the humanitarian tragedy, Jarba will continue to petition the Americans to allow his forces to be armed, especially after their success of using the anti-armor TOW missiles, all of which were counted to ensure they do not fall into the wrong hands.
Washington’s hesitation no longer justified
Fear of the anti-aircraft missiles falling into the hands of extremists can no longer be justified. even if al-Qaeda has succeeded in taking over the Syrian arena.
Jarba has personal knowledge and experience in transferring weapons into Syria, and is capable of providing the guarantees the Americans need to ensure the operation would be run according to tight and accurate monitoring and auditing processes.
All those who follow the war are in agreement that it is spiraling out of control, and that depriving the moderate opposition from its needs for essential weapons has succeeded in achieving two things: first, prolonging the tragedy with far reaching consequences for the region and second, strengthening the extremist groups who impose themselves as a force on the ground that must be obeyed.
America’s fear of weapons being put in the hands of the wrong groups – mainly the al-Nusra front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – is no longer justified. There is now an on the ground trusted opposition group close to the Americans who are watching events closely from neighboring Jordan and Turkey.
There is also no longer an excuse that the U.S. fears being implicated in the war believable either. After all, nobody wants American fighters on the ground.
They only want Syrians to be allowed to buy the weapons they need to confront this massive killing machine they are fighting and to impose realities on the ground which would force the Assad regime to go to Geneva and negotiate a reasonable and acceptable political solution.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 5, 2014.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
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